Cycling and Yoga

I should probably stretch more. I recently asked my chiropractor if there was a common problem with the cyclists she sees. "Tight glutes" was the reply. My hamstrings, glutes, lower back and neck have all been aching just recently. On a short ride the other day it felt at times as though someone was performing a hip operation on me with dessert spoons.


Ideally, my back should be flat. Instead mother nature has given me short legs to compensate

It isn't as though I'm not fairly flexible. I first went to a yoga class nearly thirty years ago (although visits since then have been rather sporadic). And for ten years or so I trained in karate, which uses similar positions to increase or maintain flexibility.

I wonder how flexible top professional cyclists are. Even allowing for the compact frames they ride there seems to be an almost obscene amount of seat post sticking out of the frame, and they reach down a long way to the drops. Chris Boardman will tell you about the importance of aerodynamics and forming yourself in to the smallest possible shape to punch your way through the air. Or something like that. Wiggins gets himself in to a position where his back is perfectly flat on his time trialling bike. I don't think I could hold that position for more than about five minutes, by which time I would have crashed into the back of a milk float or something, because I wouldn't be able to get my head up high enough to see where I was going.

Over the years my yoga teachers, karate instructors, physiotherapists and chiropractors have given me various positions and stretches to do. I am no doubt the worse for not having done them often enough. But it's not like riding a bike is it?

5 comments on “Cycling and Yoga”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    I practised Iyengar yoga for a while. The theory is convincing. Then one day my mother showed me how she could put her foot behind her head, and she never practised anything. So I gave up on the grounds that you are what you are and I stopped seeing the point of becoming bendy. However, I reckon good posture is vital as you get older. As vital as cycling in fact.

    I don't think cycling is good for posture. There is such as thing as good posture on a bike though. Wiggo's straight back for example. The head lift probably comes from a lifetime of bike racing. It's not good for the upper body either. I suppose Yoga might help there, but not as much as, say, digging the garden. As regards stretching exercises I'm a bit of a sceptic I'm afraid Chris. I could understand it more if cycling involved stretching but it seems mostly hunching – or could that be why stretching is good?

  2. Kern wrote:

    Chris, I'm impressed. There's no way I could put my hands on the ground, let alone point backwards.

  3. Hilary wrote:

    Yes that's seriously impressive Chris, I can touch the floor but the pointing backwards bit is way beyond me. I think that is a lot more than 'fairly flexible'!!
    I certainly couldn't ride in Wiggo's position for any length of time and what's more I don't want to. I want to be able to admire the scenery, look around and generally appreciate where I'm going not have my nose glued to my front wheel!

    When I used to be into running, magazines always had features on cross training – how your running would be much improved by cycling (no quibbles there!), weight training, circuit training, yoga, pilates, the list was endless. How you were meant to have any time or energy left for running I don't know! I'm sure all these things are beneficial but as you say 'its not like riding a bike is it'!

  4. Doug wrote:

    Chris, I'm also impressed.

  5. Chris wrote:

    LOL. My head should be on my shins and my chest is supposed to rest on my knees. You're meant to fold over from the hips with a straight back and your hands fall behind the feet.

    Anyway, this is a stretch to help with the flexibility you need to get low and out of the wind on your bike. The counter to this is involved arching the back. Counter stretches are probably more important to work against the hunching of the back that takes place over several hours of riding. To be honest I probably do counter stretches even less often than the other sort 🙁

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